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Capital Audiofest (CAF) 2022 Show Report -- CAF 2022 premium luxury audio event coverage.

Capital AudioFest Chronicles 2022
Thoughts on the 3rd floor listening rooms.
CAF 2022 Show Report By Rick Becker

 

Capital AudioFest Chronicles 2022 Thoughts on the 3rd floor listening rooms. CAF 2022 Show Report By Rick Becker

 

  I promised I'd be going to the big rooms in this chapter but I forgot about the ten hotel rooms on the opposite side of the Atrium from the Lobby & Registration. Let's deal with those first.

 

 

Room 302 Audio Note UK
At the Toronto show, I got to see a real Audio Note UK Ongaku amp and lamented that I have never heard one. I almost had my wish come true here with the Audio Note Tomei integrated amp ($59,600) which is identical except for using silver-plated copper instead of all silver wiring. At the front end was a TT Three turntable with PSU1 ($9410) equipped with an Arm Three/II tonearm ($2465) and an IQ 3 MM phono cartridge. This trickled down to their R Zero phono stage ($2035). On the digital side was their CD5.1 integrated CD player ($30,850). The speakers were the AN-E/LX ($9435) and all the cabling was by Audio Note. This is one of those companies that has done it all from way back when and even a quick listen in this room will tell you why they are still in business.

 

 

 

That said, what was actually playing in this room was what looked like a vintage Stellavox tape deck playing original master tapes from Charles King (seen on the left, above) and reputedly, also, Rich Brown. Talk about the importance of audio equipment racks — take a look at the luggage stand they rigged up for the Stellavox. I say "tape deck" because it appears to be player-only. There were no meters for monitoring unless this was a very primitive early machine with headphone monitoring only. Whatever, it produced beautiful music, rich in tone, which is not atypical for Audio Note gear. It was one of those special show experiences where I was in the right room at the right time. The intent listening of the gentleman in front of Mr. King says it all.

 

 

Room 303 Refined Audio (no show)
Unfortunately, Refined Audio was not able to make it to the show.

 

 

 

Room 306 Philharmonic Audio Loudspeakers
Nestled between two floorstanders, I had to get up close to the BMR Monitor to be sure it was the speaker I was hearing. The music was so good, I thought one of the larger speakers must be playing. Even more surprising was the modest rig that included a switch box, an Onkyo amplifier(?), and a Topping DAC. BMR stands for Balance Mode Radiator, referring to the unique midrange driver below the RAAL ribbon tweeter and the SB Acoustics 6" ceramic woofer.

The midrange and ribbon tweeter are both wide dispersion drivers and that was noticeable as I wound my way into the room and approached one of the speakers. It is not lightweight, coming in at 32 pounds each, and it is available in either a curved cabinet ($1900) or a rectangular cabinet (1700). There is a magnetic grill if you want to cover up the drivers, but the gorgeous wood veneer to too lovely to hide.

Their literature boasts of this monitor being a runaway winner at Speakerfest 2022 in Phoenix, Arizona, beating out a lot of very well-known names. From what I heard, I wouldn't doubt it. They claim 36Hz to 20kHz (+/-2dB) anechoic. Bass reflex design and second-order crossover allow for a sensitivity of 86.5dB/W/m and the impedance is 4 Ohms. On and off-axis frequency response charts were impressively flat. Given these are sold factory-direct, they seem quite a bargain. I was impressed.

 

 

 

Room 307 High Fidelity Services
The High Fidelity Services room was kind of déjà vu all over again, with a lot of the same brands I heard in the Highwater Sound room. High Fidelity Services is an importer, while Highwater Sound is both an importer and a retailer so there was a lot of cross-pollination here.

 

 

From the tip top of the rig in both rooms was a Massif Audio Design record weight ($800 to $1000, depending on the wood) which I reviewed recently and recommend if you have a highly resolving system. Below the LP was a TW Acoustic Raven LS turntable ($15,500) with a Raven 10.5" arm ($6k) equipped with a Stein Aventurin 6 MC cartridge ($6,500). The turntable was situated on a Silent Running Audio (SRA) platform that was sitting atop a Codia Acoustic Design 3000BAB rack (which I have also reviewed very highly.) The top two models of the Codia rack line are two of the most elegant rack styles in the entire industry. They can be designed to meet your needs and décor while costing only thousands of dollars, not tens of thousands. These items pretty much duplicate what I saw in the Highwater room.

 

 

Below that, from Great Britain, comes the Trilogy Audio Systems 907 MM/MC phono preamp ($3495), 903 Hybrid Preamp ($9,950), and 993 Hybrid Amplifier ($9,950). The amp, in particular, has one of the most interesting front faceplates — a heatsink, really — in the industry. It is a hybrid design that uniquely combines a 6H6 super tube for voltage gain, MOSFETs for lower power, and Bipolar for higher current demands. It puts out 125 Wpc into 8 Ohms, and 200 Wpc into 4 Ohms. The emphasis is on the musicality of the first Watt. If you need more power, they have larger amps.

The cables were from Signal Projects which were expensive, but not outrageous. Power cords ($3,780) and power filter ($3,850) were from Vibes, both of which were new names to me. There was also an Aurender streamer in the stack.

 

 

The speakers were a USA Show Debut from Kerr Acoustic, the K320 Mk3 (which suggests the company has been around a while) with the gloss paint option ($11,850). They were sitting on Kerr/Townshend Seismic Isolation podiums (Optional, though I've read that they make a substantial improvement at $1990). These podiums look like a sheet of metal with adjustable feet at each corner, not a solid box like the SRA platform beneath the turntable above. There is an interesting YouTube on the Townshend podiums on YouTube. Music was clear with lots of air, but not very demanding of the two-way transmission line speaker. From what I heard it seemed like a good value and worthy of further exploration. It is also available in wood veneer as well as in custom colors. Overall, this seemed like a very good, well-thought-out rig. I just wish I had heard some more challenging music.

 

 

 

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